Finding a place in a Swiss nursery is difficult. Running one is also challenging. Around a third are failing to breakeven, reported SRF.
A study by the Swiss childcare association Kibesuisse found that a third of the nurseries surveyed made a loss. In addition, the centres lacked qualified staff. 95% of the daycare centres surveyed had at least one vacant position. Because of a shortage of income, nurseries were being forced to hire staff without pedagogical training.
The association is calling for further public funding to help balance the books. French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland have already started to increase the public funding of pay for childcare staff.
Another challenge is the high number of workers quitting. Around 30% leave annually, a rate that rises to 33% among trained staff. Normally, the rate is 10%. Many of those leaving end up working for schools where the pay is higher. Starting pay for a qualified childcare assistant is CHF 56,200 p.a. (US$ 63,900). Pay is by far the biggest cost, averaging 85% of revenues. An average Swiss primary school teacher makes CHF 78,000 (US$ 88,600) and a secondary school one CHF 97,000 (US$ 110,000).
Possibilities for career progression in the sector are seen as another challenge.
The nurseries are not full either. Unfilled places are on average 18% of those available. This suggests there is a financial problem at both ends – unaffordable places and insufficient staff pay.
Spending public money on childcare is political in Switzerland. Whether the proposal includes more money to subsidise the cost of places or more money to boost the pay of childcare workers, many in Switzerland view such plans as using public money to shape society in a particular way that doesn’t suit everyone. Essentially, some would be forced to subsidise a model they don’t care for.
The Kibesuisse report surveyed a total of 621 daycare centres, which together look after more than 31,000 children.
SRF article (in German)